Thursday 29 September 2016

Martinez puts top-four finish ahead of cup glory

Tim Rich

Published 06/01/2016 | 02:30

Despite engineering one of the great cup stories of them all at Wigan, Roberto Martinez is not sure how much of an impact winning the League Cup would have at Goodison Park. Reuters / Russell Cheyne/ Livepic
Despite engineering one of the great cup stories of them all at Wigan, Roberto Martinez is not sure how much of an impact winning the League Cup would have at Goodison Park. Reuters / Russell Cheyne/ Livepic

Everton are what used to be called a cup team - a side that might never win the championship but who on their day could beat any club in England.

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Tottenham and Manchester United in the 1980s were cup teams and so should Everton be, with a forward line containing Romelu Lukaku, Gerard Deulofeu and Ross Barkley. What they need to do now is win some cups.

Despite engineering one of the great cup stories of them all at Wigan, Roberto Martinez is not sure how much of an impact winning the League Cup would have at Goodison Park. The manager's ambitions stretch further than Wembley.

If the likes of Lukaku, Deulofeu, Barkley and John Stones are to be playing for Everton in their mid-twenties, he needs to be able to offer them Champions League football. If not, they may have to be sold, although Martinez thinks that as a job lot they might fetch around £250m.

"I don't know if we are a cup team, how can you prove that?" he said as he prepared for the first leg of tonight's semi-final against Manchester City.

"We haven't won the FA Cup since 1995, we have never won the League Cup in our history. What we need to do is aim for the top four in the league and I don't think there is any reason why we shouldn't do that.

"If you look at the first half of the season, we have probably dropped four or five points that were in our hands. With the performances we have had, we should be about fourth or fifth - that is how open the table is. I don't see why we shouldn't have that ambition. It is very dangerous to rely on winning a cup when you haven't done it for so many years.

"We have got players at 21 or 22 like Stones, Barkley, Lukaku and Deulofeu. If you wanted to buy them with experience at 26, then you are talking about probably £250m in expenditure.

"I don't think winning a cup will keep the young players but I do feel that qualifying for the Champions League will help.

"Three years ago, Everton was a very experienced team who knew how to win games but who had some sort of ceiling.

"Now we have gone with young players who have the potential to go beyond the ceiling. I wouldn't say I don't want to win silverware, but the aim is to get into the top four."

Everton will continue to invest in young footballers. A £3m deal with Grasshopper Zurich for the 20-year-old striker Shani Tarashaj is close to completion. (© Independent News Service)

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